Dallas Cowboys' Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

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Dallas Cowboys' Potential Draft Pick in 2011: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
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I have yet to complete my 2010 offensive line grades, but those aren’t needed to know that the Cowboys desperately need an upgrade at right tackle.  

As I’ve said before, my initial judgment of Jason Garrett’s capability as a head coach will be his willingness to cut unproductive veterans.

No one deserves to go more than right tackle Marc Colombo.  I credited him with yielding nine sacks on the season.  Even more alarming is that Colombo wasn’t even effective as a run blocker.  No matter the criteria for judgment, it’s clear Colombo is one of the worst starting offensive tackles in the league.

Unfortunately for Dallas, there are no elite offensive tackle prospects in this year’s draft. 

Theoretically, we might not see an offensive tackle selected in the first 20 picks.  Now, tackles tend to rise before the draft and there are a bunch of players at the position projected to go late in the first round.  Still, the Cowboys should be able to trade down and still secure one of the best offensive tackles in the draft.  

The question will be whether that player can play right tackle and if using a selection on such a player is worth the cost.

 

Scouting Report

At 6’9”, 315 pounds, Nate Solder is absolutely mammoth.  At such a height, Solder actually has room to put on some solid weight.  The typical scouting report on Solder says he struggles as a run blocker, but can secure the edge in pass protection.  I disagree with that assessment.  

As I’ve watched Solder, I’ve noticed a player who is athletic enough to get to the second level in the run game.  Take a look at him at the 1:45 mark in the video below.

The bad news is Solder struggles mightily with the speed rush.  Take a look at the same video at 0:52, 1:12 and 1:59 in.  You can see him use poor technique when initially beat off the line.  

I think a lot of that has to do with his height.  It’s difficult for such a tall player to properly bend, and when he loses his leverage, he’s done.  In that particular game against Cal, Solder was absolutely abused all day.

As I watched more of Solder, it appeared his performance against Cal was less of an aberration and more of the norm.  Take a look at his game against Missouri.

You can see Solder consistently use poor leverage.  Take a look at him at the 2:18 mark.  He plays much too high and it forces him to lunge after defenders.  The same thing happens at the 3:48 mark.

Solder seems to be rising up some boards, but I’m not sure why.  In my opinion, he doesn’t have the ability to be a lockdown left tackle.  His skill set, in my view, is more properly suited for the right side.  If he adds some bulk, he has the potential to be solid in the run game, but not worthy of a first-round pick.

 

Projection

Solder appears like he’ll be a first-rounder and potentially a top-15 pick.  That is way, way too high.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see anything more than a third-rounder when I watch him.

The Cowboys should avoid Solder at all costs.  Even moving him to right tackle wouldn’t solve his issues.  Solder seems like Marc Colombo without NFL experienceyikes!

 

Other Potential Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Cal DT/DE Cameron Jordan

UNC DE/OLB Robert Quinn

Ohio State DT/DE Cameron Heyward

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